My favorite memories from Christmas as a child are:
- Always being given the turkey leg because I was the youngest.
- Putting the baby Jesus in the nativity scene at midnight.
- The grandma and grandpa barbies my grandparents got me. The giant box had a grandma Barbie, a grandpa Ken, a girl and a boy, I think the girl would be “Kelly.” Back then at least, “Skipper” was a teenage barbie, but “Kelly” was the younger one. It also came with McDonald’s mini happy meals and birthday hats. I loved McDonald’s back then as well, so this was the most epic Christmas gift I could receive.
- Random people at Christmas. I didn’t realize this until I got older, but I remember people’s friends (of my Mom’s, or my Aunt’s ETC.) coming to Christmas dinner last minute. My Grandma or my Mom looking through their gifts before everyone arrived to see what they could re-gift to this last minute guest. Now that I’m older I realize whatever the reason this last minute guest was with us probably meant a sad or unpleasant family situation. My family never wanted anyone to go without at least having a gift to open. The effort I saw as a child to put something together for others means everything to me now.
- My grandmother’s decorations. Besides speaking several languages, having birthed 7 children, being a great cook, a world traveler and being and staying truly in love with my grandfather since they were teenagers, my grandmother was an incredible artist. She could paint, draw, sew, knit, you name it. She made things for us until the moment she died, beautiful dolls, quilts, clothing – but my favorite were her decorations. Not store bought, hand made with such intricate details. My absolute favorite was a toilet seat cover with Santa on the top, and when you open the lid to use the toilet, Santa is on the inside part but with his hands over his eyes.
- My grandpa’s mini foods. I still love anything mini, I remember one Christmas specifically my grandpa making mini sopes, one of my favorite food’s in miniature. They were so cute, and so delicious.
- Making the holiday menu. I didn’t help much with cooking as a child, but I was always on menu duties. My grandpa or my mom would write out what the holiday menu was going to be on a note pad and I would create one for each person, on nice paper, with fancy colorful pens. They were then carefully placed on each person’s table setting.
- Three Kings Day! I’ve never been into Santa, but the much less talked about or celebrated 3 Kings have always been my thing. I loved keeping our Christmas tree up until after January 6th, cleaning my shoes and waking up to one last gift for the holidays. Then the best part, eating the “Rosca de Reyes” and waiting to see who got a plastic baby in their slice. In 2012 my grandmother saved me a piece of “Rosca” in her freezer so I could eat it the next time I visited. I got to eat it when I visited for the 80th birthday that same year.
M & I have a tradition of doing non tangible gifts for Christmas, experiences or events. This year we gave each other a trip to New York City. We’ve both been there, but never during Christmas time when the whole city is decked out in Christmas lights!
One of my favorite nights we walked through Bryant Park to people watch. The Song ‘Christmas’ (Baby Please Come Home) was playing loudly, there was a giant tree, lights and people everywhere. We watched the ice skaters and spotted several little children learning to ice skate by holding and pushing to giant penguins for support. It was such a cute, simple, Christmas time moment.
At 230 Fifth – a rooftop bar with front row view of the Empire State Building, we tried to stay warm with their hot spiked drinks. One which inspired our much better version of their Vodka Peppermint Hot Chocolate, with M’s homemade honey, vanilla & cinnamon whipped cream – which was a huge hit with my family on Christmas eve.